British Contrasts Collide At Burberry’s Fall/Winter 2019 Show
Switch on any news channel, scan the front page of a newspaper or listen to the chatter of colleagues in office corridors: Talk of Brexit is inescapable.
Despite Riccardo Tisci refusing to give his explicit opinion on the matter, the chief creative officer’s second runway show for Burberry – a fashion brand that’s as British as it gets – embodied some of these divisions prevalent in Britain.
The collection is aptly titled “Tempest” and is perhaps a nod to the Shakespearean play of the same name in which the opening scene features a ship on a stormy sea. It certainly rings true given the present-day political climate. Tisci, however, chose to focus its meaning on representing British culture and weather.
"I have been thinking a lot about England as a country of contrasts, from the structured to the rebellious and free, and I wanted to celebrate how these elements coexist," read the show notes.
"My first season for Burberry was about starting to develop my alphabet for the house, it was about identifying new letters and new codes. And now, I’m starting to put these letters together to begin writing my book here, to form the first chapter for a new era at Burberry."
The collection, brought to life at the Tate Modern Tanks between two different show spaces, centred on four characters – the girl, the boy, the lady and the gentleman – and can ultimately be broken down into streetwear and formalwear as contrasts. The former, representative of British youth culture, and the latter, the British establishment or the old guard.
Models walked through a more traditional, wood-clad setting with a brightly-lit runway, as well as in a shadowy, concrete-like part of the venue, where youths climbed the scaffolding wall structures (according to Tisci, a symbol of rebellion). Each space had its own ‘90s-inspired rave soundtrack by rapper and activist M.I.A.
Shades of beige were dominant, naturally, with colour highlights including red, green, and pale blue. The streetwear offerings aimed at the boy were Tisci to a T – puffers, parkas, track pants, and sneakers – with the tailored options for the gentleman more in line with Burberry classics: English-fit suits, pleated trousers, brogues, and Chelsea boots. On Instagram, the Union Jack puffer coat quickly became a hit.
"I dedicate this show to the youth of today, to them having the courage to scream for what they believe in, for them to find the beauty in expressing their voice. I will be forever grateful to London for being the city that opened my eyes and mind and gave me the freedom when I was young to discover who I truly am," wrote the designer in a caption of an image he posted on the photo-sharing platform.
Though as much as its a commentary on the obvious social and political rifts plaguing the British nation – the turmoil, the tumult, the tempest, if you will – Tisci hopes the collection appeals to the brand's diverse consumers and their varying spending habits. As he should. Lest we forget, he’s in the business of selling clothes, after all.